Last month, a pilot scheme for the use of Adjudication in professional negligence disputes was launched.
With the recent (and significant) increase in Court fees, potential Claimants are looking to alternative methods of dispute resolution.
But what is Adjudication?
Adjudication is a process whereby both parties to a dispute appoint an independent Adjudicator to make a decision about their case. Each party can make representations to the Adjudicator. The Adjudicator will make a decision, and can direct that one or both parties bears his or her costs (or even the other party’s costs, if the parties have agreed that the Adjudicator will have the discretion to make an award in respect of the parties’ costs).
Adjudication has been used as a means of resolving construction disputes since 1996 with great success. The opportunity for parties to resolve their dispute without becoming involved in litigation will now be explored for professional negligence cases.
How will it work?
Both parties must agree to refer the decision to the adjudicator (and must be content to be bound by Adjudicator’s decision!)
Once the parties agree, a Notice of Referral setting out i) the facts of the dispute, ii) the parties to the dispute and iii) the disputed issues which the parties require the Adjudicator to determine will be sent to the body responsible for appointing an Adjudicator.
Thereafter, the Adjudicator will write to the parties in order to set directions for the exchange of any written submissions or witness evidence to enable the Adjudicator to make a decision.
Generally, the Adjudicator will make a decision based upon the documents alone within 56 days of his or her appointment, but he or she may, if he or she considers it to be appropriate, ask the parties to attend a hearing or a telephone conference.
The Adjudicator will issue the decision in writing, together with their reasons, advising the parties why they have won or lost.
Not all professional negligence disputes will be suitable for the Adjudication scheme. For example, disputes which require complex expert evidence may not be suitable.
However, the introduction of the scheme provides a welcome alternative to parties who wish to conclude a dispute quickly and at relatively low cost (as compared to Court proceedings).
If you wish to discuss a potential claim in professional negligence, contact our litigation team on 01228 552600 or 01524 548494.